When I cut up one of my organically homegrown heirloom Suyo Long cucumbers and walked around offering slices to my sons (two adult and one minor), there were moans of pleasure, comments of deliciousness, and respect in their eyes. One of my sons commented that it tastes better because it was grown at home, referring to the satisfaction and value that adds. My other two sons just grabbed as many slices as they could, while one of my sons asked if there were more cucumbers. I replied that there was one in the fridge and many growing in the garden.
I was thinking about how I wish my garden produced a lot more for my family. It seems like an awful lot of work for a few meals worth of fresh veggies. I considered my effort and the cost of seeds.
And then I started thinking about the intangible benefits of gardening, like those moans of pleasure and the love my sons felt when I served them that cucumber. I consider the health benefits of vegetables grown in soil that hasn’t seen or experienced a single pesticide or herbicide in over 14 years, soil that is alive.
I thought about the benefits of having my hands in that soil, transferring beneficial bacteria or probiotics that are beneficial to my digestive system. And then there is the fresh air, sunshine and gentle exercise I get when I pull weeds, haul the heavy hose around the different garden spaces to water, and the joy that I feel when I see insects everywhere feasting on flowers and sipping water from corn stalks.
My sons have been taught the true value of food because they know where it comes from. They know the difference between industrially-farmed produce which has little flavor and less nutrition than its organically-grown counterpart which is grown in fields that are fed with organic matter, managed by human hands, few pesticides (only those approved by the USDA for organic farming). They can taste chemicals in packaged foods now. Yes, they can taste them.
I have ruined my sons for GMO and preservative-laden foods. They know how to read labels and at the least value a cucumber because they know it takes months to harvest after someone works the soil, sows seeds, plants transplants, guards, protects, feeds, and nourishes the plants that produce that cucumber. They don’t balk at the higher prices of organic foods because they know that they aren’t subsidized by taxpayer money like GMOs.
My organic garden produce is a gift to my family, one I give with much love.